After repeated acts of vandalism against the Women’s Issues Support and Empowerment group, JSU administration is now investigating the incidents as violations of the Title IX policy.
Since September 10 of this semester, at least a dozen of WISE’s fliers in Brewer Hall have been ripped up or taken down. Five fliers of the same kind were also taken down from The Reserve apartment complex.
WISE posted several fliers around campus, but only one of them is being vandalized.
The flier shows Iggy Pop — the vocalist of the punk band ‘The Stooges’ — wearing a dress and holding a purse; beside his picture is his quote, “I’m not ashamed to dress ‘like a woman’ because I don’t think it’s shameful to be a woman.”
Dr. Tina Deshotels, Associate Professor of Sociology and Program Coordinator, is the faculty adviser of WISE, and is encouraging students with information about the vandalism to come forward.
“I think it’s telling that although several students have expressed their dismay at this incident, they are hesitant to speak out. Creating an inclusive, not just tolerant, environment is not only crucial for our personal growth as well as our growth as a community, but it is the law,” she said.
Deshotels reported the incidents to Dr. Tim King, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, and he initiated an investigation.
“Students who are LGBTQ deserve an opportunity to pursue their education without fear of discriminatory acts from students and/or faculty and staff who do not have the common decency to treat all people with respect and dignity,” he said.
The fliers are part of the “Feminism: Take It Back” campaign that WISE started on September 8 of this semester. The campaign is intended to promote equality for both women and the LGBTQ community.
Members of WISE and professors of the sociology department argue that the flier vandalism further illustrates the need for the campaign.
“These acts symbolize to individuals of marginalized identities that the campus is not a safe place for them, which undermines their rights, self-esteem/worth, safety, and access to an education,” said Dr. Erin Rider, Assistant Professor of Sociology.
The vandalism has also attracted the attention of WISE’s founder, Trace Fleming, who is a JSU alumna and currently the Sexual Assault Program Director at 2nd Chance, Inc. in nearby Anniston. “We [JSU] claim to be the friendliest campus in the South, but for whom is that true for? Ripping the flyers off the walls only sends the message that women and the LGBTQIA+ community aren’t welcome if they speak up and demand equality and social justice,” she said.
Fleming founded WISE in 2005 while she was a student in the department of sociology and social work. The group is student-driven and works to address issues that they feel are affecting students at JSU.
WISE has particularly focused on crimes of sexual assault and other forms of gender violence on campus. Several of the group’s current members have spoken out about the incidents of vandalism.
“Violence and the threat of violence against LGBTQ individuals is present at JSU in many aspects of student life, and it must be addressed to create a safe environment for all JSU students,” said WISE member Dalton Goode.
“As a campus, we should pride ourselves in equality and respect for our fellow classmates,” said Cait Harris, senior sociology student and member of WISE.
Anyone who has any information on the flier vandalism is urged to contact Deshotels at firstname.lastname@example.org or King at email@example.com.